HEDON Police Station was the venue this morning to launch a public appeal for horse riders to help Humberside Police engage with the public in rural areas.
Josie Foster from Preston was the very first Rural Community Safety Volunteer with Humberside Police and for the last 18 months she and her horse Phoenix have been patrolling the countryside (normally around Patrington where Phoenix is stabled) in a high visibility jacket communicating with the public, giving advice and being a conduit of information between residents and the police.
Josie says that being on horseback provides a vantage viewpoint not available to those on foot and in cars:
“Before Christmas whilst riding in the Sproatley area it was obvious to me that lots of people were away on holiday, but had left valuables on plain view in gardens and visible through windows in sheds and garages. This offered a clear target for burglars.
“I communicated this through to the police who were able to respond accordingly and issue crime prevention advice.”
This is just one example where Community Safety Volunteers like Josie have helped the police. Other examples include reporting property dumped on the roadside which might be fly-tipped or stolen, observing and reporting activity that might contribute to criminal or anti-social behaviour, or just being aware of things happening in the local countryside that could potentially increase the risk of crime, cause a hazard to the public or constitute a fire risk.
“It’s also about creating positive contact with the police,” says Josie “I regularly ride by Patrington school to the delight of the children who call me ‘Mrs Police Lady’ because of my distinctive uniform. People will stop and talk to me and Phoenix about lots of things, not just community safety issues but this helps build links with the police in what can be isolated communities.”
Local Police Community Support Officer for the South West Holderness area PCSO Simon Cook agrees:
“It’s another valuable pair of ‘eyes and ears’ in rural areas and helps provide reassurance and helps reduce the fear of crime. There’s certainly a role for Rural Community Safety Volunteers in this area.”
Whilst Josie might live in the local area, her ‘patch’ for patrols is normally in the Patrington area, and currently there are no local Rural Community Safety Volunteers in South West Holderness – but all that might change with the increased media exposure about the role resulting from the appeal issued this morning.
Matthew Grove the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside organised the public appeal. He said:
“Community Safety Volunteers are an important part of Humberside Police’s engagement with the public. There are currently 166 volunteers who use their experience and knowledge to support the force and assist members of the public with information, crime prevention advice and reassurance. Since 2013 Humberside Police volunteers have also been working with Humberside Fire and Rescue Service to support key areas of their work.
“Most of our volunteers are based in towns and cities, this campaign is to recruit volunteers based in rural areas, particularly those who would like to patrol the countryside and villages on horseback.”
Volunteers need to be competent riders (to an approved standard) and own their own horse. Volunteers have nothing in common with mounted police officers and will not be deployed to operational incidents. The role involves volunteering for a minimum of two 1-hour patrols a week.
Once accepted as a Rural Community Safety Volunteer training will be given specific to the role. Both horse and rider will be assessed by the British Horse Society before commencing the role.
For further information on how to become a Rural Community Safety Volunteer contact Joy Harvie, Humberside Police Community Safety Unit at email firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01482 220723.